Avant Musee, Seoul *

This is one of my favorite restaurants in Seoul and I had wanted to keep it a little secret of mine for awhile. But with my best friend from high school visiting me in Seoul and being the awesome tour guide that I am (HAHA), I decided this was the place to take her. This was my third time visiting Avant Musee and the food was as amazing as I had remembered it! I love the diversity and freshness of its ingredients and sauces and beauty in its presentation, taste and aroma. It’s located in a small alleyway near Hangangjin station (subway line 6) leading up to Leeum Art Museum (my favorite art museum in Seoul). I hope they never go out of business!

Continue reading “Avant Musee, Seoul *”

The Proposal!!! and Getting Personal on How I Knew He was the One, Seoul

I’ve been waiting for some time to write this post. I was organizing my photos last night and found a video that John had filmed of me during the proposal dinner… this was already two years ago! And I look so happy, my hair and dress look really nice, and I’m laughing so much ha ha. Young love! At this point, I still didn’t know John was going to propose to me that night.. it was still a well-kept secret. It was our 1 year anniversary dinner of dating and I thought he was just treating me to a nice meal – thinking back, it was a realllly nice meal. He had rented out an entire room (called the Guy de Maupassant private room decorated by the Mountain piece by Marco del Ray) with a full wide window view of Namsan tower and Seoul downtown at Pierre Gagnaire on the 35th floor of Lotte Hotel in Seoul. After a long windy corridor led by the server, I entered a private room decorated with hundreds of rose petals, glowing candle lights, and white and purple flowers (because purple is my favorite color). Apparently, John had visited the restaurant 3 times to hand pick the color of the roses and flowers and to check on every little detail. And it was perfect. John won my heart over as always. As they say, Happy wife, Happy life. John knew this early on. haha.

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This post is on my, once in a lifetime, proposal from my husband which happened on August 29, 2014 on our 1 Year Anniversary of Dating! He had disguised this event as a “bowling party” (because I hate bowling) facebook event to invite our friends from near and far to surprise us that night – I still remember getting upset because I found out from another friend that John had invited several others to bowling without me! HA HA I have issues. Nevertheless, I had no idea that this “bowling party” was actually planned on this night so it was a complete surprise. We had celebrated Junhye’s graduation that morning, and went off to celebrate our Anniversary Dinner together at Pierre GagnaireWe had wanted to check this place out as we heard that the Chef was a Michelin 3 star. To be honest, it’s been two years so I don’t remember what the endless course meal consisted of haha but I do remember it was elegant and delicious. I was just grateful for the experience and felt so loved and cared for, down to the smallest details.

When John and I first started dating, I was the most insecure being on this planet recovering and having had closure from my past intense relationship. I was lost and broken not only emotionally but also as to my purpose and direction in my career. I had just applied to graduate schools in Seoul after getting rejected after 3 months of interviews and on the final round of an opportunity to work at UNEP in Kenya and at the second round of a national examination that I had studied 8 months for. I felt defeated. I had always done well in school, I was Valedictorian of my high school, and had graduated from studying Economics and Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago. I had always gotten the internships I had applied for. And, to be honest, I had never really experienced failure up to this point. And thus, the following rejections and failures had hit me really hard. It was a period where I had trouble loving myself, where my identity was still chained to my education and pedigree and God was in the mission of setting me free from what the World defined as success. It was a season where I was learning to let go of my controlling and perfectly-planning-everything nature which was not healthy, and learning to re-define how I valued and loved myself. My pride had become too big and I looked down on people who didn’t come from good schools or were as educated. I had a strong sense of “entitlement” where I believed I “deserved” certain things because of what “I” had achieved through my hard work and education. I had avoided meeting people as I didn’t have the ideal job that I felt would “justify” and redeem my identity and I was becoming severely depressed. And obvisouly, that disrespectful attitude and perspective had to go. God was in the process of cleaning me inside out. I found New Harvest Ministry and I found myself listening to many messages on identity. How I have been beautifully and fearfully created by the creator and that it is not by works but by grace that I have been given new life to live a fruitful and abundantly giving life on this earth. God reminded me of how much He treasured and loved me, for just being me without all the accomplishments or failures.

And it was during this time of healing and recovery that I met John. He loved me when, by the world standards, I had nothing going for me – no job and all uncertainty. He loved me when I had a hard time loving myself for who I was. John walked by my side throughout that entire journey, of finding myself and re-grounding my identity in Christ, in coming to love myself for my unique and beautiful self. He encouraged me every day, cherished me every day, prayed for me every day, and was by my side as I fell and learned to pick myself up again from the negativity and self-doubt. He thanked God for me every day and reminded me of how beautiful and valuable I was. And from that humbled self, I learned to value others and view others through the eyes of God. That every single soul is precious and valuable because He has created them in His image.

From the first week and first month, John said he knew that I was the one. Even in my dark times and ugly moments of falling apart, John never considered leaving the relationship as an option. He would always be there for me. And thinking back, I am so grateful that God has allowed for this genuine, loving, and kind man to be in my life particularly at that point in my life. I became thankful for EVERYTHING. Before I had always expected certain things to come my way because they had, but I realized that they were all blessings and I had been extremely privileged. I learned that Gratitude is a CHOICE. We have to choose EVERY SINGLE DAY to be thankful. It is a mindset and choice. And how that choice transforms our lives…”Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)” Life-giving words indeed. With the prayers and support, I slowly but surely began healing from the inside out.

I applied for and got in to the Discipleship Training Program at New Harvest Ministry to learn and read the entire bible for the next 9 months which was an incredible learning experience and journey. And I also got in to Seoul National University, Graduate School of International Studies to study international cooperation and development as I had always wanted to! God placed AMAZING professors and fellow students who became amazing friends and continually showed me favor and showed me how everything was in His perfect timing. There is so much more I want to say on this but I shall wait for another post, seriously though EVERYTHING in perfect timing. The perfect classes that openend, the perfect visiting students that came that exact semester, and the professors that came that semester. God is good. All in all, John saw me grow, heal, recover, rejoice, soar like an eagle ha ha and come back to “life”. He celebrated and rejoiced with every little success that I was given and blessed with, and was there to encourage me in the dark spots.

So back to this proposal night. After this fabulous dinner, it was pouring rain and we headed back to my house near Namsan. Little did I know, the gazebo infront of my house was lit with hundreds of little christmas lights which lit up as we came near. Moongchi, our puppy, ran to us with a ring box tied to his tiny back. And John got on his knees to propose to me. I think I laughed in shock and then said I’ll think about it HA HA and then I said Of course!  And to my shock, our friends popped out left and right from the dark bushes to say congratulations! I am so blessed and thankful. It was magical. Thank you John! So when people ask me, how did you know John was the one, this is why! In a world filled with millions and millions, God placed this genuine gem in my life. I had prayed for many many things regarding my future spouse, and my three main prayer requests were exactly John which I found within the first week and onwards! (1) A man who loves the Lord and who will get on his knees to pray with me when $h*t hits the fan, (2) One who loves children and education (I had been very interested in educational policy and early childhood education), (3) One who would be willing to live in distant places – far away developing countries (as I’ve always wanted to work in international development). I did not tell this to him when I first met him, but in our sharing he talked about his passion for all three. THANK YOU GOD. HAHA He knows the desires of my heart.

To Celebrate a Holy Matrimony

My sister is married! Now two of the three dohsters have found their other halves and have stepped into a holy covenant to love, nurture and grow together with our life partners til our last breaths. I will dedicate a lengthy post about her beautiful wedding soon, when I get the nice quality photos from the photographer. But for now, I wanted to write down some thoughts and reflections from this past weekend that I want to keep for myself. The above photo is me and Joyce, who was the Maid of Honor last June. She came to celebrate and congratulate my sister this year as well 🙂 Below are my two beautiful sisters and myself – Juna and I both ordered our bridesmaids dresses from Asos and we were both very satisfied with the flowy material!

This past weekend I attended two weddings, my sister’s and a friend’s, one at a chapel and the other at a catholic church. They were both beautiful. Both places had this sense of serenity amidst all the guests, flowers, and commotion. The bright lighting, the calming music, and the radiant smiles in so many of the guests made the two locations more than just a building and place. The bride was glowing of course, in satin silk and beaded jeweled white dresses. They really were a jewel to behold. It made me think about how much planning must have gone through the past few months to prepare for this day. To come as their most beautiful and best versions to be blessed by those that they love and by God. I am reminded of the numerous verses in the bible that refer to the church as the Bride and as the groom being Christ who will return. Marriage in this light means so much more than just a legal document between two individuals… It is a wonder how beautiful and mysterious the meaning and depth of marriage was intended to be between two imperfect individuals loving each other and fearing and loving the Lord.

I was reminded of my own vows at my wedding: “Do you Junhee take John to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do you part, according to God’s holy word, and your solemn oath? ” It’s been 11 months since I married John and I realize how incredibly blessed I am to have found someone so complementary, encouraging, kind and gentle. Of course, we have our differences and those in turn come to highlight the things we have carried on from our pasts that still need to be given true freedom. But it is amazing because in our little clashes and bumps, as iron sharpens iron, we help each other grow more whole.

My sister’s wedding was actually at the exact same chapel where I had my wedding last summer, but everything felt so different. From the blush toned bridesmaids to the groomsmen, to the different message… It was lovely, and my heart is so happy. I must admit I was crying my eyes out when my sister was bowing to my parents… but it was a reflection of the mixed emotions in my own heart as I saw her grow up in to this beautiful woman. Praying that both of their marriages will be blessed and that they will be a blessing towards others! My first time as a bridesmaid went well – 🙂

Bridal Shower, Vino Terrace, Seoul

My little sister is getting married!!! and two Saturdays ago a beautiful bridal shower was thrown for the bride-to-be with her closest friends from high school, college, and church. It was thankfully a gorgeous day with lots of sunshine, perfect for our outdoors rooftop location at Vino Terrace!

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We rented out Vino Terrace from 2-5pm and the bridesmaids got to work decorating the entire place with fresh flowers from the Flower Market at Express Bus Terminal, homemade Sangria with fruits, home-baked three layered cake made by the talented Esther, and horderves prepared all by yours truly, maid of honor Yumi and Esther.

Ricotta cheese with salmon, tomato, strawberries and all fresh ingredients. And of course some salami and cheese to go with the Champagne to celebrate the bride-to-be!

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The bridesmaids dressed in grey, while the bride shined in white. The flowers were arranged by my mom that morning – fresh off the flower market the night before. The theme was blush and white, so the flowers ranged from Hanoi, baby pink roses, to peonies! The flowers smelled absolutely fresh and sweet. The Maid of Honor had prepared a flower crown for the bride, which made her look even more elegant. The photobooth wall was decorated by the bride herself, handmade using colored stock paper! She is artistic and creative, so she went all out. The bride-to-be banner was lent by my friend Heeseok unni. The black sexy Bride-to-be sash was gifted to me by my bridesmaid Minji for my bridal shower last year. Thankfully we could use it for my sister too! #recyclingisbeautiful

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It was smiles all around. I think the most wonderful thing about Bridal Showers is that you have a moment when all those that you love can come together to celebrate with you. And on this gorgeous April Saturday afternoon we were all there for my sister!

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Juna, my youngest sister, and I had been in charge of decorations and games, so we got white helium balloons, handmade photobooth props (calligraphy all done by Juna on card stock paper, while the sparkly props were borrowed from Barbara), flower wall (every single flower made by the bride by watching youtube), mason jars with ribbons (for guests to place colored notes filled with date night ideas, baby names, bible verses or words of encouragement, and reasons why we love the Bride), seating arrangment cards (written out in cursive on nice paper), chocolates on the tables (because we all need a little something sweet), and extra fresh flowers all set up. Each guest was  given an organic candle made by the bride as a surprise!

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The games started with ice breakers of “2 Truths and 1 Lie with the Bride” where we had to share 2 truths and 1 lie about our relationship with the bride. If you got it right you got a point, if you guessed wrong, you drank some bubbly champagne. The guest with the most points got a little gift from the gift basket filled with Eos lip balms and L’occitane hand creams. The ones that got answers wrong got happy on all the champagne. win-win.

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This was followed by “Jeopardy with the Bride” with four categories (character, habits, aspirations, and people) about the Bride and 3 questions in each category with points from 100 to 500 – some secret double pointers. This game helped with team bonding as many guests met on that day for the first time! It was a lot of fun, and we all learned new and strange facts about the bride, which we will keep confidential! We love you Junhye!

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Then, “Feel the Groom” game with a surprise visit was made by the Groom and his friends after Blindfolding the bride!** She was definitely caught by surprise and  had to feel body parts of all the men to find her Groom. It was hilarious, and she found him in the end!

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Then we played the “Define Love” game where guests filled out pink heart post-its with their definition of Love in one word. The bride picked her favorite definition, and the guest who wrote it won a prize. Yoonji took home a hand-sanitizer as her gift!

This beautiful evening was concluded with a prayer time to bless her marriage. Tori, her close friend and sister from her discipleship training (DT) group facilitated the time. It was the best way to end the lovely afternoon. The bridal shower took hours of preparation, but it was all worth it in the end and I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I really wanted to throw the best bridal shower for her, and I felt like we really did it! Everything went well and all the guests left laughing and glowing, and the bride was beaming. I can’t believe my little sister is all grown up and getting married this month! Time really flies… I’m just grateful that I got to celebrate this moment with her in person, before God leads us to different places with our hubbies. Love you our 못난이 (ugly duckling)! You are so beautiful now – no longer can we call you 못난이! I pray that your marriage will be blessed by our heavenly Father and that it will be a blessing to others!

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Dealing with Stress and Cultivating Self-Love: Yoga with Adriene

So, I haven’t been able to hit the gym nor have I been able to work out during the past few weeks… months. I felt extremely overwhelmed with work at my internship, learning to work with different people, trying to work on my thesis, preparing visa papers, planning for our move to Los Angeles, and helping prepare for my sister’s bridal shower. I hadn’t really been taking care of my body as much as I’ve been feeding my mind and soul.

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I had printed out the 30 day yoga calendar and stuck it on the wall in January. Poking my head up from all the work I had to do, I realized that I never got to finish the Yoga with Adriene 30 Day Yoga Camp that I had started. So, instead of eating and sleeping my stress away, I decided to hop on the mat to do one yoga video a day every time I couldn’t focus. Aaaand, I finally finished it today! If you’re struggling and feeling stuck, I strongly recommend this yoga series to help you take some time to breathe in everything around you and breathe out some self-love.

I LOVE Yoga with Adriene because: (1) she is extremely positive and optimistic, down to earth, can laugh at herself, and makes you feel like she’s your friend even though you’ve never met her, (2) she believes in the power of words and having a healthy body, mind and soul, which I agree with 100%, (3) all I need is my yoga mat, I can stay at home, connect my youtube onto my Chromecast to my TV and I’m set, (4) it is FREE but as good as many of the yoga classes I took in person before.

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Every day has a theme and mantra. Day 1, I accept. Day 2, I create. Day 3, I embrace. I awaken. I am alive. I feel supported. I am capable. I choose. I am bold. I am present. I release. I trust. I deserve. I go with the flow. I am open. I enjoy. I am focused. I surrender. I respect. I am worthy. I believe. I surround myself. I am secure. I am in control. I am strong. I attract. I am grateful. I celebrate. to Day 29, I LOVE. and Day 30, free to explore.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene

I actually love her home practice youtube classes even more than the ones I used to take at studios. Her youtube classes are not as “fat-burning”, but Adriene really gives you time to work on taking care of yourself and she emphasizes how it’s not just about having that bomb beach body but having a body that you can love and nurture with time. Love it.

The photo above is my secret peppermint balm stick that I got from a friend when she came back from Thailand. I put a little bit of it on my temples, behind the ears, and the back of my neck. It’s seriously AMAZING – the peppermint, menthol slowly heats up and cools as I continue my yoga practice and as the blood starts circulating. Because I’ve been sitting infront of the monitor all day, it feels great to stretch out my neck during the practice and have this menthol balm soothe my entire back neck and shoulder area.

I’m thinking of starting again at Day 1 to keep my home practice going. She also has one free lengthy yoga video that she uploads every Wednesday. This past week was the Shakti Flow which got the muscles working and body feeling AWESOME. If you’re as stressed as I am, I recommend you try it out to take care of your body – with lots of support and love.

Source: http://yogawithadriene.com/